A job is a position you hold, while a career includes the many jobs and professional activities you pursue during your time in the workforce. Focusing on your job to the exclusion of building your career might increase your short-term job security, but it can damage your long-term prospects for financial security and personal satisfaction. Creating a career path you proactively manage while excelling at each job you hold takes planning and hard work, but it will pay off with a better work/life balance and increased job options.
No matter how good you are at your job, technology changes, companies are sold, bosses change and other disruptions arise that can affect your ability to keep your job. Don’t keep your continuing education and skill-building narrowly confined to your job. Be aware of opportunities related to your job, such as eventually managing your department or owning your own business and take steps to expand your skills and experience. The more experience and skills you have, the more likely you will be able to find a new job if you lose your current one.
Doing the same job for many years can lead to boredom, limited pay and decreased personal and professional satisfaction. Creating a career path increases your opportunities to learn new skills, meet new people and climb the ladder. Build your professional network, participate in industry events and take continuing education courses to make yourself more valuable and attractive to your company or others. Meeting with others who have positions you one day wish to attain, or working with a mentor can help you set concrete goals for your professional growth.
Expanding your skill set helps you become more valuable because you have more to offer companies, leading to higher pay and better benefits. If your financial needs change, you'll be better able to find a new job if your current company doesn't have the budget or promotional opportunities to offer you a raise. A career plan takes into consideration your need to earn more money as you get older, something you may not be able to do with one job. Even if you are at the best at what you do, at some point, you hit a pay ceiling based on industry standards for that position.
Quality of Life
A full-fledged career takes you outside your workplace as you attend conferences and meetings, serve on nonprofit boards and committees, write articles and give talks, and participate at business mixers. In addition to increased pay, expanding your career can bring you awards, public recognition and the opportunity to contribute to your profession. Building a career often requires learning new skills, such as communications, leadership, team building and project management competencies, which motivates you to excel. When you become expert at a single job, your co-workers might notice, but your chances for personal satisfaction and pride in your situation can be very limited.